Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Paleo Asian Dumplings & Sesame Noodles

So I have been craving dumplings like crazy lately.  Okay, not just lately, I love dumplings all the time.  When I was in college, there was a local dumpling shop called Marco & Lucas and they have literally the greatest dumplings EVER.  Seriously, ask anyone who has lived in Charlottesville, VA and they will rave about this place.  Honestly, this dumpling shop is probably one of the top things my husband and I miss about Virginia.  Can you tell by now how much I love these things?  You can get them with these sesame noodles and the combination is just amazing.  PHEW.  Amazing!  So, I have never tried to replicate them (and I have never made any kind of dumplings before), so this was quite an experiment to make PALEO dumplings that needed to be amazing.  I found the dumpling recipe here and tried to do it my way, and then I kind of came up with the noodle side dish on my own.  I won't lie- this meal is time consuming.  It involves a lot of time and effort and dirty dishes.  BUT, if you are prepared to put some love into it, the results are well worth it! Here is what I did (warning: this is going to be long):

Paleo Asian Dumplings
(serves 3-4)

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1-2 c bok choy, finely diced
  • 3 T tamari sauce
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • dash crushed red pepper
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked (used to combine the mixture once it has cooled)
(NOTE- this is likely a lot more batter than you need, but the first time you may need extra in case of mistakes.  If you are skilled at wrapper-making, you can probably halve this)
  • 6  eggs
  • 2 c arrowroot powder
  • 1 c water
  • coconut oil
  • about 1/2 c chicken broth or water
  • 2 T tamari sauce
  • 1 t apple cider vinegar
  • dash of red chili flakes
To make the filling, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrots and saute for about 3 minutes until soft. Add the pork and cook for another 5 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up the pork into small pieces as it cooks.  Once all the pink is gone, add the green onions, bok choy, tamari sauce, sesame oil, and red pepper to the pan and stir to combine all ingredients.  Add salt & pepper to taste, and adjust the seasoning to your liking.  Transfer the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, but I kept it in there overnight.  Once the mixture has fully cooled (the next day, for me), mix in the whisked egg with your hands, making sure it is fully combined with the pork mixture. Set the mixture aside until your wrappers are ready.

Next, I prepped the wrapper batter.  Divide the eggs and place the whites into a bowl, and set the yolks aside.  Whisk the whites until they are very frothy.  Add the yolks in and carefully combine them all together.  In a separate bowl, combine the water and arrowroot powder.  Slowly combine the water mixture with the eggs while stirring.  Once nice and combined, set the bowl aside for at least 20 minutes to thicken up a bit. It will be very runny! 

While waiting for the batter to set, I made the dipping sauce.  Just combine the tamari sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes and set aside until you are ready to eat!

To make the dumpling wrappers, heat a skillet over medium heat on the stove.  HINT: the skillet will get hotter as you go along, so you may need to turn back the heat periodically if it gets too hot.  If your skillet is nonstick, you are fine, otherwise grease it with some coconut oil.  Pour about 1-2 tablespoons of batter onto the center of the skillet and use your spoon/pourer to spread it into a circle, about 4-5 inches in diameter is best.  Cook it VERY fast- about 15 seconds, then flip it with a spatula and cook for just about 5 seconds on the other side. You want them to be a bit moist and uncooked so the will be sticky and seal together.  While cooking, it should look like this:

Remove to a baking mat or plate and make sure the less-cooked side is up (the last side that was on the bottom).  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the middle like so:

Fold the dumplings up (I just did mine in half), and use a fork to seal the edges together.  Mine ended up looking like this (NOT the prettiest, but not bad for my first try!)

Repeat until you run out of filling.  P.S., I had about 18 total dumplings and did NOT use all the batter.  Once you have all your dumplings formed, you are ready to cook them!  Heat a skillet over medium on the stove and lightly coat the bottom with coconut oil.  Place about 5-10 dumplings on the pan, being sure not to let them touch each other.  Do not touch them for about 3 minutes so they can brown up on the bottom.  Then, flip them over and pour a splash of broth or water into the pan.  Cover the pan and steam them for about 1 minute.  Remove from the pan and repeat with the rest of the dumplings.  I did 3 or 4 batches total and just covered them with foil as I did the rest. 

NOTE:  These turned out a little soggy compared to what I am used to, since, they aren't really traditionally fried.  Instead of doing the steaming, I might consider putting them into the oven after frying them to get them more crispy.  So, try that if you want!  But, I read that because these are gluten-free, they won't ever be as crispy as dumplings with gluten... oh well!

Once they are all cooked, serve these babies with your delicious dipping sauce and you will be so happy with the taste!  And if you want a more authentic Marco & Lucas experience, serve them with the sesame noodles...

Paleo Sesame Noodles
(serves 3-4)
  • 1 T almond butter
  • 2 T tamari sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • dash red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cucumber, thinly julienned
  • 1 T sesame seeds
  • 1/2 spaghetti squash, cooked, shredded, and cooled
In a small bowl, combine almond butter, tamari sauce, sesame oil, and red chili flakes.  Mix well.  Toss the spaghetti squash "noodles" and cucumber together, and toss it all with the sauce. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and mix it up.  Serve topped with more sesame seeds.

NOTE: You could also use zucchini noodles or kelp noodles to get the same type of dish
Well, after a LONG arduous process, we finally got our dumplings- Paleo-style!  This meal was really delicious.  Of course it is not as amazing as the original or any traditional dumplings, but I think it came close!  Definitely satisfied my dumpling craving, and it was fun to learn how to make these bad boys!  If you have the time and energy, I urge you to try this one out.  Enjoy!

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